Welcome to the week between the holiday whirlwind and the new year.
I enjoy this week every year.
Now more than ever is the time to daydream of the year ahead. For me, it has always been the opportunity to slow down and reflect; actions that have such designated moments are few and far between. Every trip around the sun contains its peaks, troughs and bottoms.
2016, however, has been a prickly hedge maze of a year. As I found myself navigating the challenges and seemingly finding a solution, I would take another turn leading across the horizon or abruptly into a dead end and have to reluctantly retrace my steps and try again. Yet, I was not alone. Zeroing in on the murmurs of discontent for 2016, showed that it was an especially complex year for everyone.
Instead of wallowing, judging and resenting, I inquired about my lessons in 2016. What can I extract from this prickly hedge maze year? Despite being seeded in mud, 2016 planted hope for growth in possibility and blossom in opportunity.
During yoga class as I wriggled in to half pigeon pose, the instructor offered a nugget of thought:
So often we get lost in our patterns and do something because it is what we have always done. But what can happen if we change our “go to”pattern? What is possible when we change or abandon what we’ve always done and try on something new?
Well I mulled over this a bit.
Indeed this was a serendipitous challenge of thought as I prepared to write away 2016. So to flipped my script, not just jotting down the annual new year’s bucket list, I zeroed in on three questions of inquiry and reflection.
Now, I revel in the ease of listing them out. Pen to paper jotting the possibilities down, physically releasing them from my body. Instead of rushing and excitedly losing myself, this challenged me to slow way down, to get real and honest. Making the list is easy but reflecting and dissecting is a little more challenging.
Three questions to unearth and acknowledge the true 2016:
1. What am I proud of? What went well?
I went through my calendar and planner to get to the gut of the year. It’s so much easier to recall and highlight the negative. Balance is a rule of nature. So digging and unearthing what was good this year was crucial. And it doesn’t need to be extravagant. For example, I successfully and deliciously made a German chocolate cake from scratch, icing and all. It did not win a prize, but it was a personal victory. The entire thing was eaten and requested again.
2. What did not go well? Where was the failure? And what did I learn from it?
Again it is easy for me to spiral into a shame sh*t storm, and highlight the wrong. In the spirit of reflection, negatives cannot be avoided and it shouldn’t be, but what is crucial is acknowledging and extracting a lesson. There is always a lesson.
3. What will I let go of?
It’s nice to think of letting things go, feeling spiritually weightless. I learned that when we finally let go of something—really truly releasing it—do we realize how it has been holding us back. This can refer to physical clutter as well like the office space we’ve been meaning to organize or the junk drawer that is dying to be emptied. Creating good vibes in daily space is another way to let go. Whether I feel it or not, I am ready to let go and accept my potential and I will follow through.
Looking back I am thankful for the learning lessons but am not hardened by letting them go. This exercise heightened my excitement for the new year. With this humble arsenal I am ready to handle the new year, wherever it may lead.
Author: Bridget Dwyer
Image: flickr/J.K. Califf
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock